Gene Variant Linked to Higher Blood Pressure
A gene variant carried by about 1 in 5 white Americans seems to make people more likely to end up with high blood pressure, according to new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers studied 542 members of the Old Order Amish community, looking for genetic components that were tied to blood pressure readings. They identified the genetic variant, called STK39, and confirmed the finding by scanning the genes of people taking part in four non-Amish studies, as well as those in another Amish group, HealthDay reports. The gene variant increases blood pressure levels by only about 3.3 points, but the finding may lead to better treatment of high blood pressure, the researchers reported. The gene seems to affect blood pressure because it "regulates the amount of sodium in your body," Yen-Pei Christy Chang, study author and assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, and preventive medicine at the University of Maryland, told HealthDay. Increased sodium levels lead to larger blood volume and higher blood pressure.
Consider five cheap ways to lower your blood pressure. Also, since changing your eating habits can help improve your health overall, try four distinct diet styles that promote health, the Mediterranean diet, Asian diet, Latin American diet, and vegetarian diets.
Men: Even a Little Extra Weight Hurts the Heart
The 21,091 smart, healthy men who joined the Harvard-based Physicians' Health Study with no evidence of coronary disease over 20 years ago are now proving by their own good or bad behavior the value of the advice they have been giving to their patients for years about the effect of weight, exercise, and diet on the heart, Bernadine Healy reports. In a recently released report in the journal Circulation, even modestly increased weight was associated with an increase in heart failure resulting from heart attacks, diabetes, or high blood pressure. In this group, which now averages 53 years of age, for every pound added on, the risk of heart trouble grew, so that obese physicians faced a sobering 180 percent increase in their chance of heart failure compared with their leaner colleagues.
Exercise remains important even during the cold winter months, so try chill-proofing your exercise routine. And the poor economy shouldn't affect your workout routine. Consider five ways your workout can weather the recession.
Flexible Approach to Vaccinations Comes Under Fire
The American Academy of Pediatrics rolled out its new immunization schedule for kids in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics . The big change for this year: a new recommendation for an annual flu vaccine for all kids ages 6 months to 18 years, which follows the new guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The journal also features one-sided treatment of a very important issue with regard to vaccinations, Nancy Shute reports. The article is an attack on doctors who take a flexible approach to vaccinations, working with parents who, say, don't want their 2-month-old to get vaccinated against eight different diseases at once, which is what's recommended on the AAP schedule.
Vaccines are supersafe, but maybe not all at once or for certain children. U.S. News provides a parents' guide to managing vaccinations. Meantime, the National Institutes of Health has put out a call for answers on vaccine safety.
—January W. Payne
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